Aliens Abroad – Gini Koch

AH, TRAVEL. In my younger days, I’d said I wanted to see the world. Good thing, because that’s worked out for me. Oh, sure, I saw most of the world while fighting horrible combinations of humans and alien parasites that turned into almost unstoppable and very deadly superbeings but, still, I saw many foreign lands and many more foreign bathrooms. Then I got to see the extremely foreign land of Washington, D.C. and interact with the strange people who dwelled there—and who were, as it turned out, much more dangerous than superbeings—up close and far more personally than I’d ever expected or dreamed in my worst nightmares. Along the way I married the hottest man on two legs, who just happened to be an alien from the Alpha Centauri system. Hey, it happens. We started our family, protected them and our world from evils domestic, foreign, and out of this solar system, and moved up in the ranks, usually against our mutual will. After that, it started to get weird. Not normal weird. What my husband Jeff’s cousin, Christopher White, calls Kitty Weird. I got to change universes with another version of me and she and I got to save each other’s respective worlds and families. After I got “home,” I and a bunch of our friends and family were dragged to another planet in another solar system and got to stop a solar civil war, which was fun if you define fun to be “not sure we’ll ever see each other or Earth again” and similar.

Then the galaxy decided to come calling and suddenly Earth was the new galactic hot spot, where all the cool, “in” aliens want to go to have at least a short vacay, if not to move in permanently. And, somehow, this appears to kind of be my fault. And along this particular way, somehow Jeff became the President of the United States. He’s great at it, because he’s a born leader and, since he’s the strongest empath in, most likely, the galaxy, he really and truly cares about everyone. Sometimes that almost kills him, but I’ve gotten really good at stabbing him in his two hearts with a giant needle full of adrenaline to keep him going. Hey, I’m totally a good wife that way. On the plus side, these various and sundry alien visits have forced the majority of humanity to embrace their inner Woody Guthrie. On the not so plus side, the small, violent minority of humanity has chosen to embrace their inner Kanye West. So, we’re working on that, but it’s a process. A slow, painful, dangerous process.

But we do persevere. Meanwhile, in the past year and a quarter I’ve actually gotten to focus on only being a wife, mother, First Lady of the United States, Queen Regent of Earth for the Annocusal Royal Empire, and Galactic Delegate representing Earth in the Galactic Council. Sometimes I even get to sleep, too. But Jeff, our kids, and our extended family and friends make it all worthwhile, and I’m feeling like we’re pretty much getting the hang of everything and might, someday soon, even get to take a little vacation. Though knowing my luck, it’ll be a working vacation we aren’t prepared for, going somewhere we’re not wild about going, filled with death, danger, and warfare. You know, somewhere like Detroit. That’s right. These are my continuing missions. To be forced to explore strange, new worlds. To meet new civilizations, usually in the middle of some kind of battle.

To accidently and sarcastically go where no one has willingly gone before. In other words, I’m going to go find Major Tom and hope that David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” will somehow work as a star map. CHAPTER 1 “HELP ME.” “Huh?” I’d been having a really great dream, where my husband and I were in Cabo San Lucas without our kids, our family or friends, anyone political, any press, any aliens from any planet, or any paparazzi. We were having sex on the beach, and it was great, and no one was bothering us. At least until someone asked for help. “Help me. I’m an alien and need your assistance.” Well, that left a wide-open field. My husband was an alien—an A-C from Alpha Four in the Alpha Centauri system.

His entire huge extended family had been exiled to Earth before Jeff was born and they’d been here for decades. All of them were American citizens, though A-Cs were all over the world. But the voice didn’t sound like any of them. Recent events had brought more aliens to Earth, though. We had representatives from every inhabited world in the Alpha Centauri system—and there were a lot of those—here, as well as residents from other solar systems both nearby, galactically speaking, and as far away as the Galactic Core. They, too, were scattered all over Earth and the Solaris system—alien relocation for immigrating aliens having been going smoothly, as had terraforming of some of the planets and various-races-forming of the others—because we had all those extra planets and moons we weren’t using and most of these aliens were refugees from some really horrible galactic wars. So Earth was no longer a lonely inhabited planet of one with a single race of aliens living on it in secret, but part of a bustling, expanding planetary system with many different types of aliens hanging out. And more coming by to visit or apply to move in every day. Though not, normally, via my dreams. And the voice didn’t sound like any of them, either.

That all of this New Age of Intergalactic Harmony stuff had happened in the less than year and a half since Operation Fundraiser had ended in a truly dramatic Zamboni drag race, so to speak, had much more to do with the fact that all the aliens from various solar systems were helping out than that Earth had suddenly leapt into the far Star Trek future on our own. We were still number one with a bullet when it came to being nasty and warlike, but we were definitely reaping the benefits of having made some swell new friends. I just wasn’t in the dream mood to make another new one. “I really can’t help you. We have an office of Intergalactic Immigration you might want to apply to. I’m sure they’ll be as excited to talk to you in their dreams as I am.” “No. I’m an alien to you but like you.” Nice, but the speaker wasn’t saying anything exciting because I’d discovered that people—be they the best-looking humanoids around who happened to have two hearts, superstrength, and hyperspeed, be they giant humanoid slugs or honeybees, be they ethereal cloudlike manta rays or gigantic Cthulhu Monsters from Space, or be they anything and everything in between—were basically people, no matter where they were from, what they looked like, what planet they called home, or who or what they considered God. “I doubt it.

And I don’t care.” My dream was getting hazy. Did my best to concentrate on Jeff and the beach and the sex. “Help me. You’re my only hope.” The voice sounded female, maybe, and alien, most likely. Most humans couldn’t get that kind of reverberation going without the use of electronic equipment. And, just like the voice, the reverberation wasn’t familiar, so, again, not an alien race I’d already met, at least, unlikely. My dreams, they were really the best. “Um, I wasn’t really trying to add Princess Leia or Obi-Wan Kenobi into this dream.

If that’s okay and all that. Especially not Old Obi-Wan. Young Obi-Wan, yeah, maybe.” I could, quite frankly, find it in my libido to add Ewan McGregor into many things. Then again, Jeff was the strongest empath in, most likely, the galaxy—because A-Cs also had a variety of psychic talents that showed up pretty often—and he was also easily the most jealous man in it, too, under the right circumstances. Me fantasizing about Ewan McGregor was likely to spark some jealousy, especially since I’d seen The Pillow Book. Twice. And the second time was not for the story. Not that Jeff had anything to worry about. He was the classic—tall, with dark brown wavy hair, dreamy light brown eyes, built like a brick house, and definitely the handsomest man in the universe.

And that wasn’t me being biased. Well, maybe biased, but only a little. The A-Cs were, to human eyes, the most beautiful things around. They came in all shapes, sizes, colors, and builds, just like humans did, as long as you included “hardbody” in their definition. Humans had lucked out, though. In addition to the fact that A-Cs and humans could and did create healthy hybrid offspring—with the external favoring the human parent and the internal favoring the A-C—the A-Cs thought humans were great. Well, most of them thought that. The female A-Cs, whom I called the Dazzlers, at least to myself, were sapiosexual, didn’t care what someone looked like, and they felt that humans had more brains and brain capacity than their own people did. I didn’t necessarily agree with this theory, though I got where it came from—I’d never met a dumb Dazzler because even those considered idiots by their peers were genius-level for humans, but I had hit a couple of not-so-bright male A-Cs, though they were few and far between. The male A-Cs just liked people who made them feel smarter than the female A-Cs did, meaning humans were really scoring the excellent mating opportunities.

And I wasn’t going to argue with the situation either, since, by now, we had a lot of really happy humans married to equally happy A-Cs, and I was all for couples’ harmony. Particularly my own. “I need the greatest warrior in the galaxy.” Despite my focus on Jeff’s hotness, the beach was starting to fade away. Did my best to hold onto the dream and, if not the dream, at least Jeff’s naked body. “And you’re talking to me why?” “Because your reputation precedes you.” Things had been relatively quiet on the Political Crap front, even quieter on the Evil Megalomaniac front, and the Marauding Aliens front had been blissfully silent. Apparently this last one was silent no longer, though. Visions of Jeff’s naked body washed fully away. I was now officially bitter.

“Super. As dreams go, this one stinks. Just sayin’.” “My mind has traveled through the DreamScape in order to find you.” “Whee. I think you got lost somewhere along the way.” Really wondered if I’d eaten something that was causing this kind of bizarreness. But we hadn’t had a state dinner, I hadn’t snuck in a huge amount of junk food, and the White House chef wasn’t prone to making anything bad. Chef was far healthier in what he prepared than I’d ever been. And I’d only had two of his chocolate mousses for dessert, so it couldn’t be that.

“No, I’ve worked my way through the DreamScape to find you. I need your help.” This dream wasn’t going away. Tried to wake up. Failed. “So you said. And I ask again —why me? And what the heck is the DreamScape, anyway? That sounds like an old Dennis Quaid movie.” I could find it in my libido to add in Dennis Quaid too. Dennis Quaid, Ewan McGregor, and Jeff would be a combination I could enjoy for a really long time. In another dream.

One not being constantly interrupted by an alien I didn’t know and didn’t want to know. Had to wonder if other people had dreams like this. Probably not. I was “lucky” this way. “Why you is because you always manage to win. The DreamScape is the realm that connects us all. And I have no idea who Dennis Quaid is or what a movie is, either.” “Uh huh, right, pull the other one. It has uninterested bells on and all that jazz.” “The fate of my world depends upon you.

” “Doubt it. Sincerely doubt it. I officially want to tell myself that this kind of dream is not on my particular Netflix queue and I don’t want anything similar to it suggested, either.” “I don’t understand you.” “So few ever do. Look, good luck with whatever you’ve got going on wherever in my subconscious you happen to be. But I’m not your girl.” “I’m not in your subconscious.” “But that’s what my wily subconscious would say, now, wouldn’t it?” “I don’t know.” The voice sounded desperate.

“My name is Ixtha. Please help me.” “Well, that’s different. What’s my name, then?” I mean, my subconscious certainly knew my name. “I only know you as the Warrior Queen.” “Right. Not as the First Lady of the United States, not as the Queen Regent of Earth for the Annocusal Royal Family of Alpha Four, and not as Earth’s Galactic Representative to the Galactic Council. But as the Warrior Queen. Gotcha. I think you were looking for Queen Renata of the Free Women of Beta Twelve, but you do you and all that.

” “I have no idea who those people are or what those titles mean.” Ixtha sounded serious. Which was odd, because my subconscious certainly knew all the various and current roles I was stuck doing whether I liked them or not. Figured I’d try one last title. “What about Shealla? Do you know her?” That was my God Name on Beta Eight. “Yes! Shealla is the Warrior Queen. You are Shealla?” “If you already knew, why’d you ask?” “I don’t . what? What do you mean? I don’t understand you.” “I thought you said you didn’t know my name.” Well, my Beta Eight name, but still it was a name I answered to.

Though Shealla was supposed to be the Queen of the Gods and the Giver of Names, not the Warrior Queen. “Then again, my wily subconscious also knows that name.” “I am not in your subconscious! I am in your dream, via the DreamScape. I have searched for you for so long, Shealla. I need your help, my people need your help. You who have saved so many, why will you not hear my plea?” “Because I think you’re a figment of my vivid and overworked imagination. Though Ixtha is a cool name I haven’t heard before, so go team in terms of my creativity.” “I am real, Shealla. As real as you are.” “Yeah? Figure out what my real name is, and then visit me again.

Or don’t. Really, you disturbed a great dream and I’m still bitter about it.” “The longer we speak the better my connection is to you, and I can search your mind for clues. Please give me that time, Shealla. I will do as you ask, discover your true name, and then you will help me and my people, yes?” “Sure, I guess. Why not, right?” Was going to add a really witty and sarcastic comment, but the sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Universally Speaking” came on and thankfully dragged me into consciousness and away from the “DreamScape.” The little joys of greeting the dawn, especially after this Dream O’ Weirdness, were without number. CHAPTER 2 NORMALLY I HATED DRAGGING up as early as we now had to since Jeff had become the President, but never had I been so happy to wake up. Let the music play and rolled over to see if Jeff was still in bed. He was not and I was displeased.

Chose to blame my weird dream and got up. Checked for him in the bathroom. Not there. Trotted back and checked Mr. Clock in case I’d somehow slept through hours’ worth of musical alarm. I had not. Went to the living room. Nada. Was about to just give up and take a shower when the main door of our Presidential Suite opened and Jeff came in with a big breakfast tray. He grinned at my expression.

“I didn’t mean to worry you, Kitty. I just thought it would be nice to have breakfast in bed today.” Ran through the potential reasons. Jeff was far more romantic than I was, and there might be something important I was missing. All our family birthdays were past—mine was the last one for several months, and it had been yesterday, and we’d celebrated by going to Paris as a family. Couldn’t come up with anything else. “Um, great!” Jeff laughed. “I’m giving the State of the Union address today while we christen the Distant Voyager, and I just want to be alone with my wife before I have to do that.” “Oh! Right you are.” Felt bad.

Jeff was in the middle of his accidental term as President and he took the job seriously. He’d been working with his team for weeks on his speech, meaning I should have remembered. Then again, turning thirty-five had felt very milestone-ish for me and Paris was awesome, and generally forgetting stuff like this was very par for my course. “Not a problem, baby, and don’t feel bad. Just eat with me and be my wife.” “That I can do!” We snuggled back into bed and had a lovely breakfast of eggs scrambled with lox, croissants, excellent coffee with cream, and fresh fruit. We talked about Paris and how great it had been to be there. We weren’t jet-lagged because we’d used gates—A-C technology that looked like airport metal detectors but were capable of moving you across the street or across the world in one step. They could move you to other planets, too, but we didn’t use them for that a lot and, now, we might not have to use them for that ever again. “I’m glad we were able to celebrate your birthday before the address,” Jeff said as we finished up.

“Me too. And I’m sorry I forgot. Earth’s first manned long-distance spaceship with true warp capability is a huge deal. I’m so glad it’s happened during your Presidency.” Jeff smiled. “Me, too, baby. It’s one of the few truly good things that’s happened that didn’t have something horrible attached to it.” “Well, I think that most of the aliens now living in our solar system would disagree with you, but I know what you mean.” Considered telling Jeff about my weird dream, but didn’t want to spoil his mood or slip up and mention my fantasizing about Ewan and Dennis. Besides, he’d just tell me that two chocolate mousses were too many and since I knew he was wrong and I was going to eat two, minimum, any time Chef made his mousse, what was the point of fighting? We showered together, which was one of my favorite things to do, ever, because we had great sexytimes in the shower and today was no exception.

Once climaxed to the max, we got dried off, clothed, and ready. Well, Jeff got clothed. In, literally, what he wore every day. A-Cs were, at all their cores, conformists, particularly when it came to their attire. Which was basically black and white with as few other colors as possible, “none” being considered best. The men wore black suits, white shirts, black ties, and black dress shoes, while the women wore black slim skirts, white oxfords, and black pumps, day in and day out. All Armani. The A-Cs loved Armani as much as they loved black and white. Possibly more. It was hard to be sure.

As President, Jeff could have worn other colors and designers. But—other than the concession of a colorful tie worn as infrequently as possible and only under extreme duress—he did not. No matter what, no matter where, and no matter how much I begged, he did not. None of them did, other than a handful of Attire Rebels whose idea of going out on a fashion limb was to wear jeans and tennis shoes only if facing death. Most of the A-Cs preferred to face death in Armani, presumably so they’d head to the afterlife well-dressed.

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